As the Zoonotic diseases has become four times as frequent in the past 50 years, the scientific community across the world has warned that the consumption of meat will create future pandemics greater than that of the Covid-19.
As per South African academics, the production process of the meat for human consumption is providing the perfect breeding ground for the diseases to emerge. It also adds that the risk is created by the interactions between the humans and the animals and the lack of learning from the past.
Earlier experts from the UN and European Food Safety Authority have previously confirmed the role of industrial animal farming as the major cause of most new infectious diseases in humans since the past decade and have warned the emergence of new pandemics.
Experts coined that, the animals kept in close confinement at the street markets or intensive farming spaces and the sight of others being slaughtered, stresses them and weakens their immune system resulting them to be more prone to the diseases.
A report, Is the next Pandemic on our Plate? Published in May,2020 highlighted the issue of regulated usage of antibiotics in the factory farming practices resulting the pathogens to emerge and spread and also making the drugs less effective for future use.
The World Health Organization had also said that nearly a billion cases of illness and millions of deaths occur every year due to the disease spreading from animals to humans (zoonoses) and the major percentage i.e 75% of it originates from the wild animals.
Assistant dean of natural and agricultural sciences and associate professor of zoology at the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof Aliza le Roux said: “Our demand for meat is driving cheaper and less controlled agricultural practices, cramming more animals into smaller spaces, feeding them less and less natural fodder. Remember mad cow disease? Have you seen chicken batteries? We should not blame ‘exotic’ eating practices, but look at our own”.
She also added, “If we could see eating meat as a ‘treat’ and not a daily ‘right’, we can reduce pressure on the environment and reduce the speed at which another zoonotic virus can evolve”.
“There will be more pandemics, and there is a feeling among some scientists that this could just be a dress rehearsal for the real big pandemic.
“Many virologists, including me, have been predicting an influenza pandemic for many years. Mankind has been warned about coming pandemics for many years, but people seem to want to listen only when they are in the midst of one.”, said Prof Robert Bragg, Department of microbial, biochemical and food biotechnology.
He warned for bird flu virus (H5N1) and said that having the mortality rate of 60-65 %, if it develops human-to-human transfer “we could be in for a really serious pandemic”.
Prof Bragg recalled the birth causes of the diseases like Ebola (through bats), HIV (through chimpanzee) and spanish flu (through pigs) which killed nearly 50 million people worldwide and stated that, “All of these have to do with the mistreatment of animals by man”.
He also said that, “Mankind should also have learnt from the 1918 pandemic, but man is notoriously slow at learning lessons from the past”.
Mentioning the recent protest at the Capitol in Washington, he also predicted that within a week or two, new infections and death in the US would “skyrocket”.